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Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

After trying a few buttercream frosting recipes, this easy buttercream frosting takes the cake with its unmatchable homemade taste. With a few simple variations, you can come up with different colors and flavors. —Diana Wilson, Denver, Colorado
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 10 min.
  • Makes
    About 3 cups


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons 2% milk


  • In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency.

Change up the flavor. Prepare the recipe as directed making the following substitutions:

Add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon almond extract instead of the vanilla.
Chocolate: Use 4 cups confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup baking cocoa and 6-7 tablespoons milk.
Lemon: Use 5-6 tablespoons lemon juice instead of the milk and 1 teaspoon grated peel.
Orange: Use 5-6 tablespoons orange juice instead of the milk and add 1 teaspoon grated orange peel.
Peanut Butter: Use 1/2 cup peanut butter instead of the butter and use 6-8 tablespoons milk.
Peppermint: Use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract instead of the vanilla.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • When beating your softened butter, wait until it's pale yellow and creamy before adding sugar.
  • For super fluffy frosting, beat a few extra minutes to incorporate a bit more air.
  • Save time: This frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated. Just bring it to room temperature and beat again before using.
  • Nutrition Facts
    2 tablespoons: 124 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 11mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (21g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.


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    Average Rating:
    • Perry
      Feb 7, 2021

      I often make cakes and this isn't the best buttercream recipe i have ever used. It tasted ok which was a plus but it was runny and even as i added more icing sugar in it didn't make any difference. I also had to add a lot more vanilla extract than it said. It wasn't a pure white either it was more of a very light grey/cream.

    • Joyce
      Aug 19, 2020

      I use this recipe all the time. You might want to try adding one pasteurized egg, after all the ingredients have been beaten well. It makes the frosting more fluffy and flavorful. Make sure butter is room temperature, soft. Beat the butter first, gradually add the powered sugar and some milk. If the frosting looks too dry, add more milk and if too liquid, add more sugar. Beat on high and for at least 5 minutes. Then add the egg. You might have to add more sugar, after adding the egg because the egg is part of the moisture. I use whole milk. It is heavier than 2%. The frosting is delicious. Colleen, you probably needed to beat the ingredients more.

    • Danielle
      Jul 26, 2020

      This frosting was as close to perfect as it could get. I made my girl/boy twins a chocolate chip cookie cake for their 4th birthday. I, like another, only had unsalted butter so I added a little salt to the sifted powdered sugar before adding it to the mixed butter. I was afraid to mess it up so, I put the milk in a teaspoon at a time while mixing. When I was finished the frosting was light and creamy; not dense at all or runny. My kids loved it! My older son said he wants the same thing for his birthday. Thank you for this easy recipe!

    • Pamela
      May 16, 2020

      Took the tip to sift sugar while adding and I had zero issues. I used coconut flavor instead of vanilla. Very easy recipe, thank you for posting! Loved it, came out awesome.

    • colleen
      May 7, 2020

      Katia The small white chunks were probably from the sugar. you did use the right kind but next time try sifting the sugar before slowly adding it to the butter. Hope this helps!

    • Katia
      Apr 7, 2020

      I tried making this at home and it didn't turn out exactly as I hoped. I made sure that the butter was not melted but softened (letting it sit at room temperature for some time) and used powdered sugar (which I assume is the same as confectioners sugar), and following all the instructions and steps in the video. I ended up with a butter cream that had small white chunks in it, something that I think a few of the one star reviews also ended up with. I'm not an experienced baker, so I was wondering what I may have done wrong? I assumed that I may not have beat the butter enough in the beginning, but I'm not sure. It tasted amazing, but I want to get that smooth buttercream texture.

    • Sarah
      Mar 22, 2020

      I am by no means a professional baker, but this is the only recipe I use for buttercream. If you use salted butter it cuts the sweetness down, I’ve been told by numerous people that this icing is the best they’ve ever had. All the negative comments on here are outrageous, you either used too much water or didn’t use softened butter (probably melted) and there doesn’t need to be a clarification on confectioners sugar as across the board it is powdered sugar. There is also a thing called google to look things like that up, or in a pinch throw some granulated sugar in a processed.

    • H
      Mar 1, 2020

      Rachel Makayla Sophie Miko: this is how feedback is left: Yes, I made this too thin the first pass with 1/2 tablespoon more milk than needed. That made a wonderful icing. Did it right the second time and that made a wonderful frosting. See, wasn’t that easy and courteous?

    • Luna
      Jan 21, 2020

      I loved the recipe, but I'm stupid and forgot what confectioner's sugar is, so mine turned out really grainy. Maybe provide a little parentheses saying (powdered sugar)?

    • Trisha
      Jan 16, 2020

      My first time making frosting and it came out perfect. Wish I could post the picture of it. Thanks a lot. ??